Happy birthday, Mom

And now for something completely personal & cathartic – a small tribute to my mom on her birthday. She would have been 60-something today (I’ll keep her exact age private; a woman never reveals her age, right?).

I lost my dear mom to cancer 4 1/2 years ago in May, 2009. That October, I became a mom to my oldest daughter, Annabeth; she would have been my mom’s very first grandchild.

There are days, most days, when I wonder how she did it with four children; I have moments when I struggle with two. There are days when I, with intention, try to emulate her – her silliness, her kindness, her creativity (she was always good with crafts), her dedication to her children, and her selflessness. There are days when I try to talk to my girls about their grandmother and show them the memory book my sister made for them. Some days it feels as if this all happened 10 years ago; and then there are the days when I find it hard to believe that it happened at all. And every day, every single day, I stop and wish I could sit down with her to talk to her about what it was like for her when we were little and ask her advice. Above all, I want a mom hug – you know, the kind that moms give: a full-on, warm embrace that makes you feel like everything will be OK no matter what. She was good at those. No, wait, she was the best at those.

Two weeks before she passed, I had asked some friends (thanks, Marlon and Amber!), to come take some photos of my mother with my three sisters and me, along with our husbands. She had a great day that day, only to be followed by a sharp turn for the worse not even 24 hours later. The images from that day touch my heart in a way that I cannot explain. They are invaluable. They are part of the inspiration for what I do.

When I think about my mother, some of those images are the first to pop into my head. Not only because they are the most recent ones, but because we knew as we were taking them that they would likely be our last family photos with her. Those moments were genuine, living in the moment, let’s-be-ourselves-because-we-have-each-other moments. We were loving and silly (my Mom was always good at silly). We were present. It was a good day.

And for good measure, here are a handful that are some of my favorites from the way back machine (some more way back than others).


I miss you, Mom. Every. Single. Day. I hope you are proud of me going after this dream. You always told me, “do what you love and success will follow.” I am heeding your advice, feeling finally like I am doing what I am meant to do – being a mom and pursuing this passion of mine. You would love all 5 of your grandchildren, Mom; they are amazing, parenthood is amazing. Here’s to you. xo

Melanie Carbone - 2013/10/16 - 8:44 am

What a beautiful tribute! I didn’t know your Mom but I know she would be proud of all you have become. Sending love you all of your family.

Emily - 2013/10/16 - 10:16 am

Oh my god I want to go hug my mom! And Evie! And you! I love these pictures. Knowing you and your sisters makes your mom seem all the more amazing for raising such wonderful women.

Tina Browning - 2013/10/16 - 2:12 pm

Amazing tribute. Your mother was proud of all of you…always. The last time I saw her was at Rainelle’s wedding. We talked for some time about things in her life, especially all her girls. She said “I have always been loved by them, no matter what was going on in my life. I can’t asked for anything more in my life than that.” as she watched all of you being silly on the floor with air guitars. I was blessed to be able to witness some of this life, in person and in pictures. I thank god for that. You have grown into confident, successful young women, but even more wonderful mother’s(and Aunties) just like her. Follow all your dreams, she is watching you and smiling from ear to ear with joy!

Craig Goryl - 2013/10/20 - 9:36 pm

Wonderful words for a wonderful lady. I am lucky to have known her, however briefly. Thank you.

Linnea Kelliher - 2013/11/04 - 4:38 pm

STEPHANIE…..YOU ARE AN AMAZING PERSON! Your comments about your mom, although I did not meet her, are truly amazing and brought me to tears…you are so talented and I am happy that you are persuing your dream! Can’t wait for you to take A2’s pictures soon!


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